Daily Devotion Friday, November 13, 2015

This week our daily devotions will be reflecting on the vision of my church, which is "To Know Jesus & Show Jesus"--a vision that was outlined in last week's sermon entitled, "Knowing & Showing: What It Means To Be Us"  Every day this week we'll be focusing on our five core values (Worship, Pray, Grow, Love and Serve)--values that enable us to pursue our vision.  If you would like to read the transcript of the sermon, click HERE

Today we are going to be talking about the fifth core value of our church: Serve. 

I'm going to begin today with a reading from Isaiah 58:5-9
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
The prophet in this passage of Scripture is relating the words of God to the ancient Hebrew people.  He essentially is telling them, "You are going through the motions of worship on one day a week, but the rest of the week you could care less about the things or the people I care about."  These words echo through the centuries all the way down to our own time and place.  

Far too many churches in America have become completely focused on the weekend.  All of their resources, energy and effort is funneled into their Sunday services because (and here I am going to use an oft-used phrase by dying churches) "that's the way we've always done it."  

There was a time in American history when that was all these churches had to do.  As long as they focused on the weekend, everything was fine.  Until church membership and attendance started declining in the 1960's, the vast majority of Americans went to church somewhere on Sunday.  It's what you did.  But the world has changed, and those days have ceased to exist. 

What is clear to me in this passage is that the only way that the Church is going to thrive and find life is when it finally learns how to be a 7-Day Operation.  We can no longer throw all of our money, time, energy and other resources into a few hours on Sunday mornings and expect to change the world. 

Worship is wonderful.  Gathering together to enjoy God and one another is beautiful.  We need these moments to come together, hear the word of God, celebrate baptism, break the bread of life and drink from the cup of salvation.  But our Sunday services shouldn't be the sum total of our life together.  I believe that our gatherings on Sunday should show us what we need to do in order to follow Jesus the remaining six days of the week.  

At our church we believe this translates into service.  The fifth of our five core values is, in fact, "Serve."  What we've learned is that our service to our neighbors and to the world help us build bridges of love.  It also helps us to stay focused on caring for the things and the people God cares for, and to not put all of our eggs into the Sunday morning basket.  

May you live in loving service today to your friends, family and the people you meet. May you find moments today where you can live out your Sunday worship in real relationships, real moments of servanthood and sacrifice.  May you be a blessing to the world that God loves.  


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